Moms need strong glutes because they’re an important ally to your pelvic floor and core. They’re also what you’ll use to do most of the lifting, walking, lunging, squatting… that comes with the #momlife territory.
So strong glutes = feeling stronger overall, functioning better, and having an easier time keeping up with the day-to-day physical demands of motherhood.
But something that’s often missed in postpartum exercise programming is the fact that it’s not just “Do these 12 exercises to get a better booty”.
There’s so much more to the postpartum glute-strengthening scene than that.
And the surprising truth is that – if you’ve been doing glute exercises and not noticing much, if any difference in the way your glutes feel or look – it might not be because you’re choosing the wrong exercises, or even that you’re not doing them enough.
It could be that you’ve got some tightness that’s stopping you from getting results.
It’s actually super common for moms to have tight muscles in (and around) their booty that make it hard (maybe even impossible) for the glutes to engage as well as they could.
Just like you can have a too tight and a too weak pelvic floor at the same time, you can also have a too tight and too weak booty at the same time.
The thing is, when your body is recovering postpartum – and all the muscles are trying to find their usual homes and function “normally” again – it’s very common for you to end up with tightness.
It makes sense right? Things are shifting, shortening, getting back into their pre-baby position. And that means that your entire core system (including your glutes) can end up a little out of whack. A little tight.
Especially in areas like your psoas and tensor fasciae latae or TFL (these are muscles that hang out in your booty and pelvis).
These muscles were overworked trying to stabilize your spine and pelvis, and keep your core section functioning as well as possible while your abs were too busy being stretched to the max to make room for your growing baby.
It’s almost like you were just holding a squat for 9 months and your booty muscles are now trying to figure out how to live without having to be “on” all the time.
They’re stressed, tense and in no mood to work well.
So they could use some help relaxing.
Especially since they need to be relaxed so that they can engage well and function properly.
Because if your glutes can’t engage very well, how do you think they’ll get stronger?
That’s right. They won’t. Or they’ll at least have a tough time making it happen.
So what’s a mom to do?
Well it might seem obvious to do some stretching. You’ve got a tight muscle so let’s stretch it out right? And that may help. But it’s probably not going to address the entire issue.
Because stretching may temporarily help the muscle chill out, but it probably won’t be enough to create a lasting relaxation effect (unless you’re doing it daily).
And – for some muscles – they need more of a deeper, targeted release than just stretching can provide.
So in order to really help the muscle let go, you can try one of two things:
- Go see a physiotherapist, physical therapist, chiropractor, or other pro who can do something called dry needling to help the muscles chill out. This is where they insert a small needle into your glute to trigger a relaxation response in the muscle. If you’ve ever had acupuncture, it’s kind of similar to that.
- Do some deep tissue massage. You can either book an appointment with a massage therapist or you can do some self-massage work.
The reason that we need this more in-depth release work is that stretching can only do so much. We need to literally get in there to help the muscle relax.
But don’t worry if going to see a pro is off the table for you. You can actually do some simple, effective release work at home.
You’ll need a small ball (like a small toy ball your kid probably has, or a mobility ball if you have one). The squishier the ball, the less intense it’ll feel. The harder the ball, the more intense it’ll be.
It’ll probably feel a little uncomfortable, but we don’t want intense pain. If you’ve ever had a deep tissue massage, expect it to feel like that.
All you’re going to do is set yourself up against a wall and roll your glutes/butt/booty (whatever you call it!) around on the ball.
Don’t worry too much about doing it “right”. Just roll around – side-to-side, up-and-down, circles, whatever feels good. Just focus on rolling around on the muscle, not the bone.
Here’s a little demo to show you how it can be done…
When you get to a particularly tight spot, go slow. Make smaller movements. Pause for a few seconds and let the tension release.
As you move around you should start to feel your muscles relax and get less tight feeling.
You’ll probably feel a difference in how you can move and how flexible you feel after you do this. You might even notice some knee, hip or back pain fading or disappearing completely.
But remember, just like with working out, this isn’t something you can just do once and say “I’m good forever”. You’ll want to do this on a regular basis – especially if you tend to get tight muscles throughout your hip.
So try adding this to one workout a week for a month and you’ll likely feel some awesome changes.
I recommend you do it before your workout but it’s also okay to do it after or even at some random point in the day when baby is happy playing and you have 2 minutes to yourself (a mom can dream! 😉)
The point is to do it as often as feels good and in a way that feels good.
By helping the muscles in and around your glutes relax, you’re going to have an easier time engaging them well so your butt can get stronger, your core and pelvic floor can function better, and you won’t have to deal with so many aches and pains because your muscles will be working the way they should.
Enjoy the release!
P.S. Thank you for sharing this with your friends! It’s such an important part of postpartum fitness that often gets missed.